Choosing Foods for Weight-Loss on a Low-Glycemic Diet
7 of 9 in Series: The Essentials of Losing Weight on a Low-Glycemic Diet
While on a low-glycemic diet, choose the right foods to get the most nutritional bang for each bite. The point of going on a low-glycemic diet is to keep your body working at peak performance to ensure an increased metabolism, improved health, and success with long-term weight loss — therefore, you need to make the foods you eat work for you.
Choosing lots of fruits and vegetables
Two food groups are generally safe to eat in greater amounts when you want to lose weight: vegetables and fruits. These foods (particularly vegetables) contain lower calorie levels and lower glycemic loads than most other foods. In fact, most vegetables aren’t even measured for their glycemic index/load because the amount of carbohydrates in them is so low (approximately 5 grams on average). As for the calorie factor, a whole cup of raw vegetables or a half cup of cooked vegetables is, on average, a mere 25 calories. That’s a lot of food for such a small calorie amount! On the fruit side of things, most fruits tend to have a low glycemic load, and one small piece averages out to 60 calories. Sure, that’s not as low as the veggies, but it’s still lower than many other food groups.
When you want to lose weight, you can choose to either have tiny portion sizes of high-glycemic foods or pump up the volume with fruits and vegetables and still maintain a lower calorie level.
As you can see, for the same volume of food, you can consume far fewer calories by eating more fruits and vegetables. The beauty is that most of the foods in these two food groups end up on the low-glycemic food list! (See for yourself in Appendix A.)
The following examples illustrate how you can cut the calorie level of your dinner and dessert with some simple, low-glycemic food swaps:
Dinner: Grilled garlic chicken served over 1 1/2 cups of pasta = 345 calories;
Grilled garlic chicken served over 1/2 cup of pasta with 1 cup of broccoli, red pepper, and snow peas = 235 calories. You save 110 calories,
Dessert: 1 cup of ice cream with chocolate sauce = 440 calories; 1/2 cup of ice cream with 1/2 cup of fresh strawberries = 230 calories. You save 210 calories.
By incorporating more low-glycemic fruits and veggies, you get the same volume of food on your plate but with fewer calories, a lower glycemic load, more fiber, and more nutrients. Not bad for a simple switch!
You can also use vegetables and fruits to increase your overall volume of food for the calorie level. For example, you can have a large salad with 3 cups of mixed greens plus 1 cup of assorted veggies (including tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers) with grilled chicken and light vinaigrette dressing for around 250 calories. Compare this meal to the grilled chicken over 1 1/2 cups of pasta for 345 calories. You get around 4 1/2 cups of food for the salad meal compared to around 2 cups of food for the pasta and chicken dish. Eating more vegetables and fruits at a meal means you can have more food for fewer calories. That’s a great plan in anyone’s book!
Including healthy fats and protein
Of course, you can’t pursue weight loss and health without taking a look at all the foods you consume, including your protein and fat sources. These are two of the nutrients that make up the Big Three of calorie sources (carbohydrates being #3). Not only that but they also help you feel full and give you long-term energy.
Choosing lean-protein foods is essential for weight loss and general health. Some examples of lean-protein sources are skinless chicken breasts, lean cuts of beef and pork, egg whites, fish and shellfish, and soy foods. You also need to eat fat. Believe it or not, fat is healthy when it’s the right kind and when you consume it in moderate amounts. Look for unsaturated fat sources, specifically oils, seeds, nuts, nut butters, olives, and avocados. Do your best to avoid saturated and trans fats such as butter, cream, lard, and hydrogenated oils.
Consuming a protein source and a fat source at each meal is a great way to slow down your body’s digestion and conversion of carbohydrates into sugar to provide long-term fullness and nutritional health . . . both of which are keys to long-term weight loss!